skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   18 October 1874

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Oct. 18th 74

My dear Sir

I am much obliged to you for having sent me the Quarterly. The rejoinder is a fine specimen of words having been used in a Pickwickian sense.1 I am thoroughily convinced by striking coincidences of style & most unusual expressions that Mr Mivart is the author of the calumnious attack on my case, &, as usual, of gross misrepresentations of my words.2

I am therefore not now surprised at any amount of malice in the article, though I was surprised before. It has been a satisfaction to me to discover that there are not two men of science, only one, so regardless of truth as is Mr. Mivart.

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


CD refers to the October 1874 issue of the Quarterly Review (137: 587–9), in which George Howard Darwin defended himself against misrepresentation of views expressed in his essay on marriage (G. H. Darwin 1873a). The misrepresentations were in St George Jackson Mivart’s anonymous review of works by John Lubbock and Edward Burnett Tylor ([Mivart] 1874; see letter from G. H. Darwin, 6 [August] 1874 and n. 3, and letter from John Murray, 12 August 1874). A rejoinder from the reviewer appeared after the letter. In the novel Pickwick papers (Dickens 1837), Mr Blotton of the Pickwick Club called Mr Pickwick a humbug; when challenged by the chairman to explain whether he meant the expression in the common sense, he denied it, and said he meant it in its Pickwickian sense.
Mivart had also reviewed Descent for the Quarterly Review ([Mivart] 1871b), and had previously written on the theory of natural selection for the Month, a Catholic journal ([Mivart] 1869).


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Dickens, Charles. 1837. The posthumous papers of the Pickwick Club. London: Chapman and Hall.

[Mivart, St George Jackson.] 1869. Difficulties of the theory of natural selection. Month 11: 35–53, 134–53, 274–89.

[Mivart, St George Jackson.] 1874b. Primitive man: Tylor and Lubbock. [Essay review of the works of John Lubbock and Edward Burnett Tylor.] Quarterly Review 137 (1874): 40–77.


Thanks for Quarterly Review [Oct 1874, containing G. H. Darwin’s letter and a rejoinder]. Is convinced the author is Mivart. Is therefore not surprised at malice in the article attacking his son [George Darwin] and grossly misrepresenting CD.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42152 ff. 345–6)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9685,” accessed on 4 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22